This article is a translation of Kuroda Toshio’s "Obo to buppo" (1983，pp. 8-22; 1994, pp. 185-96.) [Translator’s note: I have followed Neil McMullin (1984) in translating the key terms in this essay, obo and buppo, as “imperial law” and “Buddhist law,” respectively. All footnotes have been provided by the translator. Subheaders have been added by the editors.
DHARMA (BUDDHISM); LAW AND RELIGION; POLITICS AND BUDDHISM; JAPAN--HISTORY--TO 1333
Buddhism has often been regarded in purely intellectual or spiritual terms. However, especially in its institutional dimensions, Buddhism like other religious traditions has been closely associated with political authority, and to ignore this is to distort its history. To begin redressing scholarly neglect of this subject, the late Kuroda Toshio explores in this article the paired concepts of the obo (imperial law) and the buppo (Buddhist law) as an interpretive framework for investigating Buddhism's political role in the Japanese historical context. The doctrine of the mutual dependence of the imperial law and the Buddhist law (obo buppo sdiron) emerged toward the latter part of the eleventh century, in connection with the development of the estate system (shoen seido) of land tenure. As powerful landholders, the major temple-shrlne complexes of Japan's early medieval period constituted a political force that periodically challenged the authority of the emperor, the court, and the leading warrior houses, but on the other hand cooperated with these influential parties in a system of shared rule. Thi system actively involved Buddhist institutions in maintenance of the status quo and was criticized in various ways by the leaders of the Kamakura new Buddhist movements, who asserted that the buppo should transcend worldly authority. However, such criticisms were never fully implemented, and after the medieval period, Buddhism came increasingly under the domination of central governing powers. The relationship of Buddhism to political authority is a troubling problem in Japanese history and remains unresolved to this day.